Most every parent knows that music can have a significant impact on a baby’s emotions. Not only does it have the power to inspire wiggles and smiles; it can calm a fussy baby when nothing else seems to work. With that being said, early exposure to music can also have far-reaching benefits that can change the course of a baby’s life. If you aren’t playing music for your baby, learn what he or she may be missing out on.
A Powerful Tool
We’re all born with billions of brain cells, which form connections or pathways as we grow. These pathways determine how we think, and the nature of their development is influenced by stimuli which we experience throughout our lives. According to the University of Georgia/College of Family and Consumer Sciences, kids who grow up listening to music develop stronger music-related pathways, which pave the way for better spatial reasoning. It’s not clear why music plays such a beneficial role in early learning; however, researchers believe it may spur the development of neurological pathways that can be used to aid intelligence. Whatever the reason, numerous studies have made it clear that music can be a valuable developmental tool.
Music Aids Reading
Researchers at Stanford University recently discovered that music can help improve how young brains process language, a finding which they say is a strong indication that it could prove useful for kids who have reading difficulties. Past studies have also shown that early exposure to music appears to result in better reading and overall cognitive skills in children.
Research suggests that even the youngest babies are receptive to music. In fact, in one Cornell University study, researchers found that six-month-old babies had the abilities to detect even the most subtle variations within Balkan folkdance tunes which are known to have complex rhythm patterns. What’s more, a separate Cornell study determined that babies are actually better than adults when it comes to recognizing unfamiliar musical rhythms.
What Parents Can Do
The University of Georgia/College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ “Better Brains for Babies” program offers some sound tips for how parents can use music as a developmental aid for their young children. These include:
- Play music for babies: Expose your child to a variety of different types of music, but keep the volume relatively low, since babies have delicate hearing which can be easily damaged by loud sounds.
- Sing: Babies enjoy the rhythmic patterns of music, and hearing these through your familiar voice can actually help the little one learn language at a much faster rate.
- Encourage singing: When your child is old enough, encourage him or her to sing along with you. Studies have shown that young brains learn words better when they’re exposed to them within songs. This is a big reason why most of us still retain simple songs we learned as very young children.
- Consider music lessons: Many parents think their young children are too young to sit through music lessons; however, even at four, most kids have the basic abilities required to hold and play a musical instrument.
A Free Learning Aid
A powerful tool that can promote greater achievement in school and life, music is an especially cost-effective way to nurture young minds. After all, most of us can easily provide our babies with a variety of music without spending any money at all. Instead of turning on the television to distract your child while you clean your home; turn on the radio and expose him or her to some classical music. Without even realizing it, you may be indirectly instilling your baby with powerful cognitive skills that could have a significant impact far into adulthood.